Monday September 11 2017
‘Ventura scared to play Donnarumma’

Mino Raiola says Italy CT Giampiero Ventura “doesn’t have enough character” to drop Gigi Buffon for Gigio Donnarumma.

Buffon is almost certain to retire after the 2018 World Cup, with the Milan goalkeeper expected to be his heir for the national team.

However, some have claimed he should be elevated to first choice sooner, something his agent says the Coach won’t do.

“As Donnarumma’s agent I’d obviously be happy if he became the starter for the national team,” Raiola admitted, speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I could hardly say the opposite, that would make me a hypocrite.

“What do I think of Ventura? I’m not going to conceal it, I think he’s losing his orientation. He’s in a total panic, I can’t understand what he’s doing anymore.

“I don’t think he has enough character to launch a youngster like Donnarumma and cast aside a totem of the national team like Buffon. Ventura also has other rogues to think about.”

Raiola was also asked if Donnarumma is likely to leave Milan next summer, should the Rossoneri fail to qualify for the Champions League.

“Gigio has shown that his will is the real thing that matters, and he decided to stay. So let’s leave him in peace for now, even if I don’t much believe in Milan’s project.”

The agent is known for moving his clients for big money, so was inevitably asked about Paris Saint-Germain’s €222m signing of Neymar.

“The emirate [Qatar] was quite simply genius,” Raiola said.

“The price isn’t so exaggerated, it may seem that way because we’re not used to reading certain numbers, but there are two things you have to consider.

“The first is that Barcelona already paid a lot for Neymar, with €150-160m in Santos’ vaults. Between the transfer fee and the commissions it added up to so much.

“It’s therefore logical that the Spaniards set a release clause of more than €220m.

“The second is that Neymar wasn’t paid for by PSG, but by a whole country where the emir wanted to give a gift to his people.

“Remember [Diego] Maradona and Napoli and everything that happened next? There was an incredible joy for for a historic buy.

“That’s exactly what’s happened today with Qatar which isn’t going through an easy moment. With Neymar the emir has done something brilliant, really brilliant.

“The €180m for Kylian Mbappé? Even there certain figures may be absent. We’re talking about a very young player, who is already really strong.

“I don’t agree with the price of [Ousmane] Dembele, that seems like a panic buy to me. For him, yes, a lot was paid, I’d say too much.”

Raiola was asked about another of his clients, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, and whether he’s the best in the world in his position.

“No doubt, alongside [Marco] Verratti [another Raiola client] he’s the best in the world. Verratti is very strong, and I think it’s incredible that we don’t fully appreciate a player like him, because we’re talking about one of the very best.

“I’ll repeat myself: it’s only in Italy things like that happen.

“He’s very happy [at PSG] and there are no problems. There are a lot of international stars there, and in that context I think it’s best to define him as a star, and that’s it.

“At the moment that’s enough.”